Short Story - Micca and the Yule-log Man

It's Christmas Eve at the Horn and Howl Inn. Gather close for the story of Micca and the Yule-log Man by R. A. Kennedy...

'Twas Christmas Eve in Kernow and all was quiet throughout the land, and many residents were already sleeping ...

Except the punters of The Horn and Howl Inn and a bleddy loud bastard Toad who was already on his fifth jug of mead.

The Horn and Howl Inn lay on top of a hill, surrounded by thick wood. It was a welcoming place, for the most part, and many travelled far and wide for the music and the stories told. This was most definitely the case at Christmas.

From the winter solstice onward, seldom was the Inn quiet. Jowan the spriggan Innkeeper had made delicious pies, and cake that smelled of rich fruit and doused in plenty of alcohol-all were helping themselves to the large trays of food. Jowan always kept his customers well fed and watered, and Berens was one of the many individuals that was taking great advantage of the "eat as much as you want" policy. And despite shovelling pies into his face, it did nothing to soak up the vast amount of alcohol he was consuming.

“Ere, eeevvyWAAAAN! lisshhen to meeee!”

He slurred and lifted his fiddle up to his chin and as he raked the bow across the strings it made an awful squeeeeeeeee sound.

Of course everyone stopped what they were doing and were listening to the pissed-up toad. But not for the reasons that Berens wanted them to. Although at this particular moment he had no idea about anything, and decided he would forget what he wanted everyone’s attention for, and just swigged from his tankard.

‘Twas Matilda the rabbit who picked up Beren’s now discarded fiddle and played a few notes to much applause from the busy Inn. Y’see, truth be told, Berens was quite a dominant force within the group of droll tellers that regularly attended the Inn, so Christmas was the opportunity for the others to try to usurp the noisy drunk bugger.

They flipped coins whilst Berens muttered and staggered around the bar. The droll tellers did this every year to decide to who was going to tell the Christmas tale. It was one of their many traditions and held in high position in their circle, and this evening the coins decided that it would be the turn of Matilda the rabbit and a Pisky named Margo.

Some droll tellers have a niche. Some rely on props and some tell their story with a sort of guise dancing. Matilda and Margo’s style of storytelling saw Matilda playing the fiddle and Margo telling the story, with added emphasis or refrains from Matilda. They were certainly a lucky pick for Christmas Eve and a real treat.

“What story we 'avin'?” asked Suzyn the mouse, straightening her scarf and lighting her pipe.

“Not one about the bats and the chandeliers. That always makes me feel sad,” answered Wilfrid the beaver, who was a newcomer to the droll tellers. “I like the one about the shoes that give everyone cake. Everybody should have cake on Christmas.”

Matilda started playing long and slow droning notes on the fiddle. Margo hopped onto a stool.

“Nope none of those. This one is about the Yule-log man.”

“Is that the one that do go around your house and slap you in the face with a bucket of fish?” said Danyell the badger.

“Nooooo, that’s Cloggy Clyde and ee’aint nuffin' to do with Christmas,” replied Suzyn

A completely rat-arsed Berens then slurred something from the corner he was holding onto that sounded like, “Washing lines filled with biscuits.”

Turns out, what Berens meant was Sloshing Dinah and the Hilltop Crickets. Which, to be fair, made as much sense as washing lines filled with biscuits.

Danyell, looked a little puzzled until Suzyn explained it was a favorite of Berens but had little to do with Christmas, despite the story apparently taking place around that time.

“Is the Yule-log man, the same as the Trouser Duck?” asked Polly the goblin.

Suzyn almost spat out her whisky in exasperation. “No. Terrytick the Trouser Duck is for New Year's Day. Now. Please! Can we get onto the story?”

“Agreed,” said Margo.

Matilda started to play a haunting melody on the fiddle, and Berens tried to dance but then thought the better of it.

“This is the story of The Yule-log Man, and a squirrel named Micca.”

Maltida picked up the tempo of the melody.

“Christmas time meant many things for different people not least the Yule-log man, Jory Tregory. The winter season saw him make the relevant preparations to emerge from his house deep in the wood, especially for Christmas Morning.

"As the poem of the same name goes, the Yule-log man is made of logs, with pinecone hands, and pocket-watch cogs all held together with string. On his head he wears a nightcap that has sprigs of holly, and his face has no nose or mouth but two eyes as black as coal."

Matilda plucked the strings of the fiddle.

“He carries a battered mandolin named Molly, as well as an umbrella and a biscuit tin. These are the necessary tools of his frightening trade.

"Y’see, dear friends, Jory Tregory was the antithesis of the Green Jolly Present Fairy."

“Yeah the chap who do slap you in the face with a bucket of fish! That’s him!” Said Danyell, and received a slap to the back of the head from Suzyn.

Margo carried on. "Jory Tregory did the jobs that the Green Jolly Fairy didn’t want to do ... Punish the children who refused to sing and had been bad.

"Yes, it wasn’t the most pleasant of jobs and rumour has it that Jory was created for this very reason but that is another story for another time.

"Our story takes place on what was an otherwise normal Christmas morning. The snow had blanketed the trees and fields and the stars twinkled in the sky. It was a crisp morning, and the frost and snow were entwined in a dance on the soft breeze.

"All the children of Kernow were in bed but not sleeping from the excitement of opening presents and eating till they burst. They sang carols to warn off the Yule-Log man and, despite their parents groans and sleepy grumbles, would sing as loud as possible and without care.

"The mule pulled Jory’s cart and the Yule-log man played Molly the mandolin, whose voice lured the naughty children who refused to not sing.

"Between Molly’s discordant haunting notes, she would name the children one by one, and they would watch as the named children opened their front doors.

"The Yule-Log man would kick the biscuit tin with a boom, boom, boom and watch as the children walked as if in a trance toward the cart and eventually their doom.

"There were houses that were a little more impenetrable from Molly and in these cases, Jory would leap over gates and rap on the windows to break any enchantment that was protecting the house from their grasp.

"No one could run and hide, and over the years many have tried to end up not being the filling in a pie."

At this point in the story, Danyell thought twice about taking a bite of one of Jowan’s potato pies.

“However on this morning, something very odd happened, and for some reason something that has never happened before. As Jory and Molly trundled into a small village, names were played out and a small collection of children walked silently toward the cart, a green door opened and in the door a small squirrel-child stood.

"Jory stared at the child noticing that this child was not like the others. It did not have the glazed look in the eye and was not blindly wandering towards doom.

"The squirrel-child just stood in the doorsill clutching her stuffed toy with a missing eye, and was singing Hark He’s On the Roof.

"Jory looked down at Molly and spoke."

“But in the poem it says he doesn’t have a mouth!” interrupted Danyell.

Matilda sped up her melody on the fiddle and sung the words, “Music needs no mouth to speak!”

“Exactly!” said Margo, "and that’s how Jory asked Molly who the squirrel-child was and what she was doing...

"However, Molly didn’t know. The child’s name was certainly not on the list.

"Now, you see, like with most of these stories, they are warnings to children and most children know all about the Yule-log man and how all little children should be kind and good throughout the year and to sing on Christmas Day to avoid being put in a pie. And, on the whole, most children oblige this for obvious reasons and tend to stay in their beds until they can no longer hear the mandolin and biscuit tin of the Yule-log man.

"As is well known, most parents will say things like, “Stop beating your brother up or the last thing you’ll hear is a mandolin before you’re covered in pastry.”

"These visions of abject terror tend to keep unruly children in line moreover that meant that good children would avoid even looking at Jory Tregory on Christmas morning...

"Except this curious squirrel-child who had not a glimpse of fear in her eyes, and her name was Micca."

"Micca stopped singing for a second and waved at The Yule-log Man, who didn’t really know what to do except move his mule and cart onward to the next village. They were on a strict time schedule of course.

"Halfway up the road, however something came over Jory and he was compelled to look back over the heads of the five children in the cart to see if the squirrel was still there. Well, not only was she still there but she was walking behind the cart as it trundled along the road.

"Jory did something then that to do this day no one really knows why.

"He stopped the cart, much to the remonstration of Molly, whose notes clanged out with a discordant thrum in protest. But Jory ignored his sentient mandolin and watched as the squirrel-child shuffled her feet towards him-quietly singing ‘The Herald Brings a Christmas Bunch’ she only stopped singing when she noticed Jory staring right at her.

"'Hullo.' She said.

"Jory didn’t know how to respond."

“And Molly refused to sing.” sang Matilda.

"The best he could do was nod. And even that small nod of the head and the creak of his wooden neck felt somewhat odd. This should not be happening, in the centuries that he had been doing this, not once has he had anyone say, “Hullo” to him or even go anywhere near him, at least not willingly.

"Before he knew what was happening, Micca had leapt up onto the cart and sat next to him and had now started singing, 'Oh Bless He Who leaves The Dustcart Out On Christmas Day.'

"Not one of Jory’s favourite carols, and he had heard them all.

"Jory tapped her on the shoulder as Molly gave another thrum of protest. He knew he had to get rid of this curious child impeding him at his work and Molly felt exactly the same.

"And yet, he couldn’t.

“Oh, don’t worry yourself. I know you can’t talk. I don’t mind.” Jory sagged his shoulders, and then pointed back toward the squirrel-child’s front door. “It’s all right. My parents are sleeping. And Grandma’s up cooking. She don’t want me under her feet when she’s cooking.”

"But that wasn’t good enough for Jory, he didn’t want the responsibility of taking this child on his somewhat macabre journey.

"Whatever would the Green Jolly Fairy say about that?

"He’d be FURIOUS. After all, he was the Yule-log man’s boss, so to speak.

"No, it was no good, he would have to take her back home and then carry on with his task as normal. But, just as he thought this, the squirrel child gee’ed up the mule and the cart continued down the road. Jory flapped his arms around to try to stop her but to no avail.

“I’ve never sat in a cart,” She said excitedly.

"Well, bugger this, thought Jory. This child is nothing to do with me if she wants to sit here, what am I supposed to do about it."

“Taaaake her back!” Sang Matilda on the fiddle, echoing the sentiments from Molly.

"But Jory couldn’t, he saw the smile on this small child’s face and knew that he couldn’t break her heart by shunning her.

"But it still felt wrong. Obscene even. For the first time in his life he actually felt a little remorseful at what he did. This mere child sitting next to him and singing “Whilst King Wherry Ate Cake In a Well” it was quite surreal.

“C’mon,” said Micca, “show me how all this works.”

"And all Jory could do was shake his head."

Matilda bowed a chord on her fiddle, and sang Molly’s retort

“Jory you’re a fooool.”

Matilda played a plucked staccato melody and Margo took a swig from her tankard on the bar.

“Of course one would be right in thinking that if Jory Tregory the Yule-log man was used as a deterrent for naughty children then surely his cart won’t be full. And you’d be right. It does work but like everything 'tis a flawed system."

“I’ve never met no one who was made into a pie” said Polly.

Suzyn and Danyell stared at the goblin incredulously,

“Think about what it is you’re tellin' of ...” Suzyn said as she sipped her mead.

Polly shrugged her shoulders, “Well, it’s true ... I 'aven't!” the goblin said.

Margo took a bite of potato pie, and wiped the crumbs with her long sleeve before Matilda gently changed the melody again to something that was a little more contemplative and wistful, and Margo continued.

"Micca still held the reins of the Yule-Log man’s mule, but got distracted, as if she had just remembered where she was. She dropped the reins and peered over the back of the bone-cart, almost kicking the biscuit tin out from under Jory’s legs.

"The small squirrel-child, waved to the five faces sat in the cart. They did not wave back. It was like they had been frozen. The glazed look on their faces revealed nothing of their predicament.

"But it 'twas their predicament that Micca was interested in.

“Wot they done?” she asked, turning to face the Yule-log man...

"Jory shrugged, as the cart hit a small bump in the road. Truth be told, what they had done was of little consequence to him and to Molly.

"At the tail-end of each year, the Green Jolly Fairy gave him a list of all the children that had been naughty and through his magic would also let it be known the ones that would be stubborn and silly enough to not sing"

“A pastry covered demise,” whispered Danyell.

"It was clear that Micca knew the many tales of the Yule-log man and pressed various questions about the job that Jory carried out.

“So wot they done?” Micca repeated, looking for some sort of response despite knowing that Jory could not respond without the aid of Molly. Molly, however, kept silent."

And this was accentuated with Matilda’s refrain on the fiddle made with a sharp dissonant shriek of the strings.

"“She don’t like me. Does she?” Micca said

"At this point Jory got quite cross with his sentient mandolin and kicked the biscuit tin out of frustration therein conducting the children in the cart to stand to the noise before sitting down again. The Yule-log man gave Molly a cold hard stare as if willing her to be his voice, and perhaps was also asking her to be kind to the squirrel-child.

"Eventually Molly gave an exasperated twang, as if some silent compromise between the two had occurred, and the mind boggles as to what they both reached an agreement on-"

“His share of the pies I ‘spect,” interrupted Polly, who was, for the most part, ignored.

To this Matilda changed the melody to a diddly-diddly-dee rhythm and sang Molly/Jory’s reply to the child.

“We know not what they have done, only that they are here because they are meant to be here.”

"Micca gave a slow blink. Her sharp, child’s mind ran it over a few times before asking, “So how d’ya know if they deserve to be put into pies?”

"If the Yule-log Man had a mouth it would have been on the floor.

"Jory stared at Molly on his lap and spoke through her, “We do what we are told. We do not question the Green Jolly Fairy.”

"Micca contemplated on this just as they reached the sign welcoming them to the village of Gwinear.

“I know what they done,” Micca said to her stuffed animal.

"Jory heard and stopped the cart. But for the life of him didn’t know what had compelled him to do so.

"Call it curiosity or call it plain foolishness.

"Molly screeched at him, “This is not for us to know!”

"But something stirred inside the Yule-log man, for the first time in many centuries he wanted to know why he did this on what was to be the most joyous of jolly days.

“Tell. Me.” he said to the squirrel-child.

"And, of course, a child like Micca was more than happy to oblige. She stood up on the cart, and pointed to each of the five frozen children.

“That’s Billy Biscuitlegs.”

Jory looked confused, “Because he has legs made of biscuits?”

“No, silly. Because he took some freshly cooked biscuits his mum made and stuffed them in his pockets. They burnted his legs.”

“So, Biscuitlegs is not his real name?”

Micca shook her head. Molly sounded a questioning note.

“So why is he not called Burntlegs?”

“Because that’s not the same.” Micca replied.

And to that Jory could not disagree.

Micca pointed to the child sat next to Billy, “That’s Jampot Jemima.”

“Because she spilled Jam over herself?” asked Jory feeling like he was getting the hang of this.

“No!” Micca giggled, “Because she ate all her mum’s jam.”

"The next child was called Bring-it Babs because she liked to bring the outside world into her parent’s house, bugs, mud and all sorts of things that had no place being on her mother and father’s lovely clean hearth and sometimes bedclothes.

"And the last pair were twin mice called the Changers.

“Why are they called the Changers?” the stumped Yule-log man asked.

“Because they look the same so they take it in turns to pretend to be one another. I can tell which one from which though.”

"And Micca pointed first to the mouse with a black spot on its forehead, and said, “That’s Padgy, so the other one is Midge ... Unless,” and she clambered into the back of the cart sending a worrying jolt through Jory.

"Micca walked up to Padgy and licked her paw, then she wiped the small Mice-child’s head, and sure enough it was just soot, she repeated the process on the twin she labeled as Midge and gave a cheerful, 'Aha!'

“They always switch,” she said.

“How does she know all this, is she like us?” Molly twanged.

"And Micca clambering back to her seat next to the Yule-log man and giving her stuffed animal a kiss just in case it had been worried about her leaving for a few seconds, said, “Cos, we all go to the same school and adults are loud.”

"And then she stood and acted out the adults talking, her squeaky voice making crude imitations of her schoolfriend’s parents' actions and voices.

“I told him, Joan, that if she ate all that jam then the Yule-log man would come instead of the Jolly Green Fairy. Did she listen? Nooo,” and Micca stood with one paw on her hip and comically wagging a claw in the air.

She then sat back down smiling, “So,” she asked, “who's next on the list?”

"It felt wrong. How was all of this right? All these years Jory had blindly followed the orders of the Jolly Green Fairy. Hell! He trusted him implicitly, there was never a need to ask questions. Here is your list, do your job, have a good Christmas, see you next year. The whole pie process was somebody else’s job. He was the delivery man. The finer details didn’t matter.

"But the revelation brought a flurry of emotions forth for the Yule-log man and even to Molly who had suddenly become strangely silent. He had thought these small animal-children on the list had just been plain wicked, wicked and frankly deserved to be put into pies...

"Jory became angry.

"No ... Jory was enraged!

"All these years, all the stories, all the counter spells that parents had tried to use to protect their children (which usually involved fire) and all for lies and all because children were behaving as children should; exploring the world, nicking biscuits, and eating jam and playing harmless pranks on their parents...

"And for the first time in his life ... Jory wept."

At this point in the tale, Matilda accentuated his wracking guilty sobs on her fiddle.

"“I’m a monster,” he cried, and Molly had gone quiet not because she didn’t agree but it was more of a silent contemplation that only a magical sentient instrument could do. Micca stared up at the two coal-like eyes of the Yule-log man, and handed him her stuffed-animal.

"“Mr. Thistles always helps me when I’m sad.” She said, and the Yule-log man accepted and held the stuffed-animal close to his bark-covered body.

"“I’m a ... Monster,” repeated the Yule-log man as a black tear rolled down his face, and he flinched when he realized that Micca had pulled her sleeve over her paw and was wiping the tear from his face in silence.

"Molly was perplexed, but eventually asked “Are you sure that that’s ... all they did?”

"Micca nodded and said, “Mmm, mmm. There was a couple of other things but thass all.”

"Molly perked up, “AHA! So they are bad. Come on then what did they do?”

"Micca shrugged, “Biscuitlegs stuck his tongue out at the neighbour, Jampot hid in the cupboard and spilt his father’s homemade dandelion wine, Bring-it-in Babs grabbed some manure to grow some cake. 'Er mother was cross with that one... You could hear her yelling from up the road, but that’s it ... Are they really bad for doing this?” Micca asked.

"If Molly the battered mandolin could sigh she would. “So no one killed or murdered or cursed or ... Aagh, I don’t know, POISONED?” Molly screamed. Her musical voice melding with the strings as if she had just been dropped.

"Micca shook her head.

“I’m ... A. Monster.” Jory repeated.

“NO!” he added suddenly, “The Green Jolly Fairy is a monster!”

"The squirrel-child, looked up at the face of Jory and said calmly and without any hint of judgement,

“You shouldn’t just do what people tell you all the time, you know. Thass what Grandma says.”

"And of course she was right. This tiny child had shown more commonsense than him or his sentient mandolin ever had.

“So where too now then?” Micca asked, “You still got a job to do.”

"Jory shook his head. And he knew exactly what he had to do.

"Geeing up the mule he drove the cart seven miles back up the road toward Micca’s village.

"Yes, he had blindly followed the orders of someone he trusted so it would be wrong to the lay the fault completely at the door of the Green Jolly Fairy, but he was angry at how he had blindly let himself and his mandolin into being the villain of Christmas.

"Before this he saw himself as an arbiter of good. Enforcing the benevolence of the Green Jolly Bastard. For years and years he was feared and possibly respected, and it took a small innocent squirrel to show him that he had been a fool. The Fool-log man.

“You’re letting them go. Ain'tcha?” Micca asked as they arrived back in the village, the snow crunching under the wheels of the bonecart.

"Jory nodded and this time Molly gave no protest. The back of the cart opened and Molly played a sequence of notes in quick succession and the children in the cart woke from the frozen trance and went back to their houses.

"Jory gave a sigh. Let him admonish me. I bloody dare him, he thought.

“Will they remember?” asked Micca.

"Jory shook his head. Of that he was sure at least.

“I will remember!” said a booming voice from behind them and then sounding in front of them.

"Molly gave a screech of strings in fright. Jory picked up his umbrella and gave the stuffed-animal back to Micca.

"The snow that came down in flurries in front of them turned a glittering green.

"Micca stared in wonder. Not only had she met The Yule-log Man, she was about to meet.

"The Green Jolly Fairy."

Matilda bowed the fiddle and the melody became more ominous but was tinged with confusion and somewhat open ended, if one was so inclined to taste music, this melody would have tasted like someone had made you an alcoholic beverage that had innumerable varieties of something and perhaps a small firework.

"“What do you think you are doing, Jory? You are preventing me from doing my job. It. Is Christmas morning, and I have so many presents to deliver. Do you want to be responsible for the good children of Kernow to wake up with no presents on this joyous of jolly days? Now, do as you’re told and fill your cart with naughty children. There are pies to be made, there’s a good chap.”

"Micca stared up at the tall Yule-log man, and Jory did as he she thought he picked up the mandolin, kicked the biscuit tin and started to call the children back to the cart.

"But something was wrong.

"Jory stopped playing Molly, and the Green Jolly Fairy fluttered and rolled back the sleeves on his robes.

“Jory! What are you doing?”

"And truth be told Jory didn’t know what he was doing or even thinking. Molly gave a ring of strings as if she was laughing. Micca was frantically searching around expecting the children to return to the cart.

"There was a rumble, but not from the earth.

"It was the cart itself, and the mule tried to run but knew it was too late and whatever it was would catch him so it returned to eating the grass through the snow-covered ground.

"The bones on the sides of the cart shook and fell, and the rumbling changed to a rattling as they amalgamated into a figure with six arms and three legs and four skulls for its head.

"It was a giant structure and it was heading toward the Green Jolly Fairy.

“Stop. This. Now!” the Green Jolly Fairy warned.

"But the giant bone-monster kept advancing.

"Micca’s eyes stared as the bone-monster took wild long swings at the Green Fairy who seamlessly dodged the oncoming onslaught.

"And then the fairy clapped his hands and the bones returned to the cart as if nothing had ever happened.

"“This is your last warning, Jory. Your predecessor took the same path that you are now on, and it didn’t end well for them.”"

Margo paused.

"Little is known of the Jory’s predecessor. Some say that they was the sibling of the green fairy others say that they just popped into existence as the obvious equivalent, and some agree that like Jory, they had been created to carry out the orders of the seemingly kind Green Jolly Fairy.

"But whatever the case maybe, Jory did not care.

"He had been lied to, he felt used, and it was all ... Just wrong.

“Now, there’s a good lad. See you next year Jory,” said the Green Fairy, turning his back on his counterpart.

“No!” Shouted the Yule-log man without the use of the Molly, and with one swift movement, he grabbed the umbrella at his log feet and lifted it into the air.

“I banish you!” Jory screamed, and flapped the umbrella open and shut in quick succession.

"Micca didn’t know what he was going to achieve, but then again, she just saw the bones of cart try to scat the Green Jolly Fairy out.

"Molly clattered her strings in disharmony and it mixed with the whistling of the early morning wind.

"Again, the Green Jolly Fairy clapped his hands, and Micca closed her eyes. It was clear that this wasn’t going to end well for one or the other and she hoped to the Gods she wouldn’t end up banished somewhere by mistake.

"Tendrils of woven ice and wind fingers latched themselves onto the Green Jolly Fairy, and he kicked and twisted trying to pop them out of existence by clapping his hands, but they held fast.

“You’re making a mistake that will cost you and the children of Kernow dearly.”

"Micca opened her eyes puffed up her chest and strode defiantly toward the Green Jolly Fairy. Jory looked on in fear, he tried to reach her hand to pull her back but he had to concentrate along with Molly to hold the banishment spell.

“You!” the voice of the small squirrel-child admonished the Green soon-to-be-banished fairy.

“You are ... A bleddy horrid Fairy. You were going to make my friend put my other friends in pies. What kinda monster does that make you? I hope you ... Are banisshess ... in poo!”

"And she skipped back toward Jory as the spell winked, blinked and popped the Green Jolly Fairy out of their existence, and to who knows where.

“What are we going to do now?” asked Micca, “Does this mean that Christmas is cancelled?” and Jory gave a sigh.

"It did look that way. When the children of Kernow went running to the Christmas bunch, and sitting themselves down by the fireside, with hope and wonder they would peek into their Christmas stocking whilst singing, “Joy Was Brought and Gran Got Drunk.”

"Their eyes lighting up with excitement, as they reach into the stocking only to find ... Nothing.

“Let us bring the presents.” Molly suggested"

Matilda played a cheerful melody on her fiddle and Margo continued,

“And so this was the first of many Christmases’ that Jory Tregory delivered the presents to the children of Kernow.

"At first it was a tricky endeavour, and the task proved to have several hurdles to navigate. Like how does one effectively deliver presents to a house without disturbing anyone or getting an axe for his troubles. The chimney was a no, no. These cold early hours of Christmas usually meant that the fires were lit and that was no good for a man made of logs. The door was too obvious and without a swift kick to knock it down wasn’t inconspicuous enough. However, Molly discovered that a few rightly played notes would turn the windows into something that a solid being could pass through.

"And of The Green Jolly Fairy, he was never heard of again.

"The light of the sun of Christmas morning had started to rise above the horizon turning the snow and ice into a crystal wonderland across Kernow. The Yule-log Man had stopped the bone-cart outside Micca’s house, and Micca gave the Yule-log man a great big hug and blew a kiss for Molly.

“I’ve had a wonderful Christmas.” She said as she turned and skipped toward her front door. But just as she started to turn the knob, she turned back toward her new friends.

“Would you like to come in? I’m sure Grandma will give you some cake or something.”

“What about your parents?” Asked Jory.

“I told you, they’re sleeping. They always sleep and I haven’t seen them aaaages. It’s just me and Grandma that are the awake ones.”

"Sadness came over both Jory and Molly and even the mule gave a sympathetic whinny. So of course Jory and Molly joined Micca and Granny Micca for some cake, and a song.

"And for the first time ever, Jory and Molly knew what it was to be happy, contented and to be with friends."

Matilda finished the story with a flourish of notes that were percussed with a little jig. Margo gave a bow to the Inn’s applause.

Across the Inn’s chatter, Jowan stepped out from the bar and started to sing, “Tis a Silent Night For One and All.”

For but a moment ... It went quiet.

Then the whole Inn stood with tankards raised and started to join the slow lilting carol.

Christmas was here, and it was brought not by a Green Jolly Fairy, nor a Yule-log Man, but by life, and the love of stories and songs from the patrons and droll tellers of the Horn and Howl Inn.

Merry Christmas and Nadelik Lowen.

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